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NO HIDING: Finding Faith & Freedom to walk out an authentic relationship with God, His Family, and His Word. Through: Biblical Studies | Stories | Scholarship

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Saturday, March 23, 2024

I saw Jesus once…

  I saw Jesus once… 

It was a warm summer day in southern California, somewhere near Arcadia or Bellflower I would guess. I have the impression it was near the Santa Anita race tracks, but that may not be correct. For some reason, that fact is just floating in my head near this story. 

I recall that it was a large public pool. I can see other kids laughing and playing, I am entertaining myself in the water, admiring the sun dancing on the ripples. I was young. I’m not quite sure how young, three, five? I feel like the water wasn’t very high, maybe one of those 1-foot pools for young kids. I know I was alone in my immediate area, I usually preferred to play alone. I didn’t know until my 40s that it was part of my autism.

There was a sudden feeling that I was no longer alone, and I glanced around and then up. 

Jesus was there, in the sky, on a throne, surrounded by beings in white. 

Then the beings were gone, and it was just Jesus and me. He was seated the whole time in the clouds, but somehow also face to face with me. It was like me being in the water miles from him, and me being face to face, both at the same time. 

Jesus smiled, I smiled. He never opened his mouth, but he smiled. It felt like he spoke words that don’t come in English to my soul-heart-mind, words that have taken on different tones over the years. 

There is a fiction book called Wheel of Time, and in it a character named Perrin Aybara speaks with wolves. The authors paint a picture that Wolves speak in images and not words, or feelings. That’s the best description of what it was like with Jesus as a small child. 

The closest I can come in words is: I AM

I am here. I am real. I am with you. I won’t leave you. It’s gonna be okay… Something in that general feeling.

It could have been an hour or ten minutes, I’m not sure. 

Kids take these things for granted, we haven’t been trained to overthink it. 

After a while, he nodded and I went back to playing. When I looked back up, he was gone. 

Some people tell me it was just the imagination of a child. Who knows, maybe. We’ve seen the mind do strange things as we study it in Neuroscience. What I can tell you, is that the memory of that moment is never far. I don’t think about it daily, but I have thought about it at least a few times a year, for close to 40 years now. 

In the years after that event, I’ve had many reasons to doubt the existence of “God” or “Jesus”. Yet, through disappointments, failures, shame, joy, wins, losses, family addiction issues, deaths, and the eventual “Deconstruction” from the ideas I grew up with in Churchianity, and Reconstruction thanks to Bible School, and great scholarship like Drs Michael Heiser, John Walton, Tim Mackie, NT Wright, Ben Witherington III, and so many others… Giving up “The Rapture” for a biblical vision of the returning King… becoming a Widower and raising two boys alone, with decades of church wounds… Through all of it, a small child, in a pool, with a Jesus far and near, ever present, never left me. 


I am with you. I am real. Hold on. Keep walking, I know you can’t see me right now, but I am right here………….. 

Was it a real vision? It was to me, it still is to me. It sticks with me. If I close my eyes I am right there in that moment all over again. 

I didn't do anything to earn it, and I don't think it's a theological flex, but it certainly grounded me on one key point of Theology. 

He is real, he is risen.

I used to believe in a “young earth” and now I think that Genesis 1-11 were always intended to only be a metaphor for the human condition. I’m not sure there ever was a literal historical Adam & Eve, if there were, they were probably taken from the early hominids. 

Does giving up the Rapture and Young Earth make me toss out everything else? That depends on how you look at it… 

Did I toss out modern Western Churchianity, with its megachurches and MAGA Christians? Absolutely. 

Did I toss out Augustine, Luther, and Calvin? You betcha, mostly at least. 

Did I toss out Jesus? No. Jesus lived as a Jewish Rabbi, gathered a bunch of rag-tag disciples, caused some of the religious establishment concern while gathering some to himself… he started a Jewish Messianic movement… he died on a cross, rose three days later, was seen by many witnesses, and his followers of The Way continued building Jesus communities all over Judea, Samaria, and to the known world at the time. 

Eventually, that movement turned Jewish + Gentile.

Eventually, the Gentile factions took over and got a lot of it twisted, each generation having to struggle with it over and over, starting a fresh struggle. But that’s now new. Israel’s name was changed to Jacob because he “wrestled with God”. One Rabbi said that the nature of the people of Israel has been to wrestle with God ever since. I believe that is true of his Gentile followers as well. 

Did Augustine get more wrong than right? Probably. Was Luther a brutal antisemite who also had some things about God right while others he got wrong? Yes. Did Calvin get almost everything wrong while wrestling with God in a medieval Catholic context? Yes. Does that make him evil? No, we each wrestle. Am I still “wrong” about probably half or more of my positions? Sure, why not. 

I no longer care about getting the right answers on a theology test, the longer I study the Rabbis the more I realize that my Orthopraxy (how I live The Way) matters more than my Orthodoxy (the doctrines I hold).

I know that Jesus is real, he was in the beginning with God and is God. I am comfortable with the ambiguity of the biblical author's language and feel no need to get technical with doctrines about those words from years after-the-fact. 

He is real. 

He is risen. 

He is with me.

He has not abandoned me. 

He is coming back, physically, to reign on this planet.

I am living The Way of Jesus, in community, and working pockets of New Creation in there here and now while I wait for the then and there.

He IS. 

That’s what it left me with, that’s what it still leaves me with. And that will matter as I write more about my story.

Shalom, Darrell. שלום

Darrell Wolfe, Storyteller at NoHiding.Faith

Monday, March 18, 2024

Rough Draft - NoHiding Manifesto - Disclaimers - Extremes back to the messy middle.


Introduction: Questioning the Foundations

What if you suddenly had to re-learn everything you thought you knew about Jesus, the Bible, Church, Christianity, Theological terms, all of it? I think you could summarize this book and my journey with a simple set of questions: 

  • Am I committed to the traditions of my faith of origin, or am I committed to understanding what the biblical authors actually intended to communicate to their original audience? 
  • If those conflict, which will I choose?
  • How will changing my attitudes, ideas, theological positions, doctrines, orthodoxy, and/or orthopraxy affect my daily living?
  • What, if anything, does the secular idea of “mental health” have to do with these things? 
  • What if pulling just one thread leads to unraveling all of them? What if deciding there is no rapture leads me to changes in my mental health, community, and day-to-day living that were completely unexpected? Hint: I did, they did.

Personal Journey and Identity

However, this book is about more than an intellectual exercise in theology, this is my story. 

It is my life, my journey; every step earned painfully. 

This book is about re-discovering spirituality, the Bible, Jesus, all while working through my journey with Autism and ADHD, sexual dysfunction, mental health, grief, recovery, restoration, deconstruction, reconstruction, and coming to terms with a life that is Pro-Jesus, Pro-Bible, and maybe just a little more than a little Post-Churchianity. 

It’s about finding The Way of Jesus outside the walls of the Sunday morning experience, the concert followed by a public speaker, where we go to learn “what to think”, aka the “Church”. Then coming to terms with how (if at all) I can continue to have “Church” (at least its modern western American expressions) as part of my life. Or do I need a Fresh Expression (cite them here)? 

Where do I start to unravel a lifetime of journey with Jesus, one that will continue to the day I die or he returns? 

There's no conclusion to provide you, because I learn something new, and unlearn something old almost daily. But I think I can share my experiences, what I think I’ve learned, and some changes to my approach that I intend to carry forward. 

It less about a change of thoughts, and more about a change in my way of thinking (See Bob Hamp for more on that). 

ADHD, Autism, Sexual Dysfunction, Mental Health, Grief

I grew up as a Pastor’s Kid and spent most of my adult life deeply involved in various expressions of modern western American Churchianity. 

As a result, almost all of my struggles have been filtered through my Biblical and/or Christian experience. That is why so much of this text will revolve around a changing worldview and better understanding the Bible. Ironically, it was after rejecting Churchianity that I found the Bible (as a Jewish text) held many of the answers I needed about the nature of the human condition. The biblical author’s worldview looks almost nothing like modern western American Churchianity.

That being said, this book will be just as much about my personal life experiences, and the attitudes, mindsets, worldview shifts, and personal growth I experienced along the way. 

I will discuss ADHD, Autism, Sexual Dysfunction, Relationship Addiction, Mental Health, Loss, Grief, Codependency, Boundaries, and finding a new balance in my own mental health journey. These stories will be weaved into the larger questions about the Bible, God, and religion. However, many of my most profound changes came from understanding the Bible as a completely different book than the one I thought it was. So these stories will be mixed throughout the book as I touch on various Bible related topics.

Commitment to Original Biblical Intent

I can start by telling you that I am more loyal to Yeshua HaMashiach (Iesus Christos, Jesus the Messiah (Christ)), than I ever was before. 

I can also say I have more reverence, awe, and respect for the texts we've come to call 'The Bible' than ever before... 

I am still “Spirit-Filled”, though my understanding of that experience and the gifts have changed dramatically since becoming an ex-Pentecostal/Charismatic.

However, I have lost many of the doctrines, ideas, mental frameworks, and theological positions from the two thousand years of traditions that I have come to call Churchianity. 

There are almost no theological terms or “doctrines” that I haven't had to redefine and re-contextualize as I've come to understand the biblical authors better. 

I still believe that Jesus was with God and was God (John 1), that Ha’Ruach Ha’Kodesh (The Holy Spirit) is also God; that Jesus lived as a man on earth, died, rose again, and reigns as king of the universe at his Father’s right hand as I write this text, and that he will return to this earth (bodily) to reign here at a future point in time. 

Beyond that, the biblical authors worldview provides layers of context and meaning we’ve lost in western Churchianity. 

Contrary to one pastor who said, “We must unhook from the Old Testament”, we must dive much deeper into the Hebrew Bible if we have any hope of understanding the “New Testament” authors, who were mostly (or my opinion, entirely) Jewish authors, speaking in Greek to a Greek world, but from a Jewish worldview.

Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, and if you don’t understand, deeply, the story the biblical authors are telling in the Hebrew scriptures, including the Divine Council Worldview, you will not properly understand the mission of Jesus, the “good news” of Jesus, the mission of Paul, or what kind of community we are called to join today in the modern era.

I’ve come to redefine almost every term I was taught growing up in Church, while I’ve outright rejected some terms entirely. We’ll get into all that later in this text.

Historical and Cultural Context

At various points throughout this text, I will use terms that you may or may not be familiar with, for example: Ha’Ruach Ha’Kodesh (The Holy Spirit). That is because I found that I was at a disadvantage from understanding the biblical authors correctly until I began understanding the Jewish cultural origins and Hebrew language origins of the Messianic Jewish Jesus Movement called The Way, which eventually expanded to include Gentiles, before it unfortunately rejected its eldest brothers of Jewish heritage becoming an entirely different beast called 'Christianity' in the 100-300s AD. 

We’ll get into details later, but it comes to this: studying the biblical authors in light of all other available contemporary evidence (texts that existed at the same time the biblical authors were writing) will have more fruit in our sincerely understanding what they wanted to say, than anything said by anyone after-the-fact, even if it was just 50-100 years after. The further afterward, the less weight those writers and thinkers have on the discussion. 

Therefore, studying 1 Enoch or Maccabees or texts from the Qumran caves, or the Ugaritic textual discoveries, will carry more weight than something said by Augustine, Luther, or Calvin, who wrote well after-the-fact.

Deconstruction and Reconstruction

I have come to accept that each generation of Yahweh's people have had to 'wrestle with God' in their own time and their own contexts. I am able to honor and respect that wrestling, without accepting their perspectives or conclusions.

One rabbi said that Jacob’s name means “to wrestle with God” and we Jews have been wrestling with Adonai ever since (correct this quote and cite it?? Xxxxx).

While I still mostly own the term “Christian” as it was used historically, I have lost much respect for many of the teachings by those using that title throughout most of its history. 

To clarify, I respect their journey, their struggles, their attempts to “wrestle with God”; but I do not accept many of their teachings, theological positions, or doctrines. I feel no loyalty to any “creed”, tradition, or the claim of any theologian, regardless of how long that position has been held by the establishment(s), unless I can verify for myself, through the use of scholarship and primary textual evidence, that position aligns with the worldview of the biblical authors. 

One man on social media responded to me by saying, “You just reject two thousand years of church history because all of a sudden you know better now?” 

Plainly, Yes. 

I firmly believe we have better tools, more research, more textual documents, better scholarship, and a better ability to understand the original biblical authors than even the early patristics did just 50-100 years after the fact. I respect each generations attempts to wrestle with the texts, but I choose to accept only those conclusions that I find agreement with as I study the historical contexts. 

If a text of any kind was available to the biblical authors to read and reflect upon, that text will have more meaning for me in understanding the message the biblical authors is trying to communicate to their own original audience, than anything said after the fact, no matter how sincerely or piously it was said.

In the last 50-100 years, the scholarly debates between a traditional understanding of Paul, the New Perspective on Paul (NPP), and the Paul within Judaism perspective (sometimes called the Radical Perspective on Paul), are just one example of how we must re-align our understanding of everything based on the best textual evidence available from all contemporary resources.

While a text of this nature, which includes my personal story and journey, cannot be comprehensive; and this is in no way an academic treatise or Thesis paper, I do want to cover enough of the most important terms that came from my own journey to provide some idea about what I mean by redefining and recontextualizing. 

Some of the terms we’ll discuss, briefly:

  • The Gospel 
  • The Cross/Importance of the Cross
  • Law
  • Sin
  • Justification
  • Rapture / 7-Year Tribulation (which are not biblical concepts at all)
  • The Second Coming (which is a biblical concept)
  • TBD… I’ll finish this list when I finish writing.

Warning: Modern Interpretations and Biases

If you are committed to the traditional views and do not want them challenged, this book isn't for you. 

If you are committed to either an American Right or American Left view, either extreme, this book isn't for you. Example: You are fully against or fully for the statement “Marriage is between one man and one woman” and incapable of discussing any nuance in the biblical texts around this topic, this text isn’t for you.

I will be challenging views from every side, agnostics, atheists, Jews, Christians, Left, and Right equally. I also admit my own biases. There are no possibilities that I will ever stop loving and serving Jesus as Yahweh come among men, died, risen, and coming again bodily in the future. That is central to what I understand of the biblical witnesses.

However, there are almost no positions that I once held deeply that I haven’t at least reconsidered, if not fully changed my position. I expect many more will come in the future. My future self may even contradict myself in this text, which is why it will be focused on my journey toward a way of approaching life and Bible, and not on specific conclusions. 

So this is less about getting the “right answers” and more about learning how to ask the right questions, and being willing to allow the messy middle to be unclear or nuanced. God has to be right, but I don’t.

Engagement with Diverse Perspectives

Augustine wrestled with God, and wrote many things as he wrestled, and for reasons beyond me, Churchianity has placed him on a pedestal in Church history. Augustine was also a brutal antisemite, who would be in jail today for some of his rhetoric, and rightfully so. I am completely free to reject up to and including 100% of his ideas while I can still respect that he had his own journey and I have mine, and we are each responsible for our own journey. I’m also free to admit where he may have gotten something right, while holding evil and despicable views about the Jewish people (our eldest brothers in Yahweh’s kingdom). 

I do reject much from the patristics and I think we've gradually got it more and more wrong throughout the centuries after they wrote. We’re beginning to correct many of our errors, and it is our duty, with access to modern scholarship and loads of ancient texts (that were not available to those theologians in centuries past), to ask what the biblical authors intended to communicate to their original audience, even if we end up deciding that we have to reject the interpretation we collectively held or had imposed onto the text in some prior century.

Conclusion: A Living Faith

I am not asking you to change your theology or doctrinal positions, although I think you may if you take this journey with me. 

I am asking you to be open to the possibility that we could understand the biblical authors better than we have. 

I am asking that you be open to changing the way you approach the Bible, and consider how that might impact every other area of your life.

I’m asking you to rethink how you engage life, community, mental health, politics, religion and religious establishments, all as part of adopting The Way of Jesus.

Note: If you’re familiar with Donald Miller, this is my journey inspired by Blue Like Jazz (read that book if you haven’t yet).

A Call to the Reader

If you're brave enough to keep reading, let's begin.

Darrell Wolfe, Storyteller at NoHiding.Faith,, and Topos Creative LLC

Sunday, September 10, 2023

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 has nothing AT ALL to do with personal salvation.

 Reposting my answer for a forum question:

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 has nothing AT ALL to do with personal salvation.

It was an admonition to the Corinthians to self-examine their actions, motives, and conduct in regards to the community of Jesus. Something modern western Christians have a hard time with (thanks or no-thanks to Luther and Calvin) is realizing that the invitation into "The Kingdom of God", Jesus' Kingdom, is first and foremost a community call before it is an individual call.

You are being invited into a community. The "Lord's Supper" was a full meal, not a thimble of bread and juice. It was a weekly celebration of this new community where everyone shared what they had and operated as a single chosen family. Baptism, likewise, is a symbolic practice whereby someone announces they are dying to their old life and becoming a member of this new family, and the family receives them into the family.

This is why the jailer could bring his whole family into baptism at one time, because this wasn't about "accepting individual salvation so we can go to heaven when we die" but about an announcement that they (as a family) would now be loyal to this God and join his family of fellow Jesus followers.

Just like with circumcisions, which made you a part of Israel's family but did not guarantee that you would remain faithful to the family, these two practices are family practices first, before they are individual. On a personal note, this is why I don't consider tiny pieces of bread and thimbles of juice to be a true Lord's Supper at al, but a plastic imitation of one.

1 Corinthians 11:27 NET
For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

Darrell Wolfe, Storyteller at NoHiding.Faith

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Reconstructing a deconstructed faith... My story.

Reconstructing a deconstructed faith...

My thoughts as I drove into work today.

What would it look like if your worldview suddenly shattered? 

What if you had a core set of ideas that you believed were essential to your worldview and your faith, but you suddenly realized those ideas may me faulty?

What would you do?

I am the son of an alcoholic Pastor turned atheist crack addict psychologist.

My dad was a pastor and Disciples of Christ (DOC) the nomination, AKA the Frozen chosen.

I grew up in what could a cessationist tradition; which is one in which people didn't believe the miracles still happened in our day, all miracles died with the apostles. 

Meanwhile, I was having visions and spiritual experiences. I saw Jesus around 5 years old, I saw demons, and I had strange dreams and spiritual interactions throughout my young life.

My dad left the church when I was around sixteen and I tried very traditions. I went to the Baptists, Evangelical Free, and Calvary Chapels (among others).

In my twenties, I found the Pentecostals and the Word of Faith. Unlike every other tradition I had been exposed to, these folks believed in miracles, the supernatural, and embraced it all wholeheartedly. Therefore, I embraced their theology and lifestyle for a season. 

Eventually, I grew more frustrated as time went on because my lived experiences weren't matching the theology of my chosen tradition. 

When I eventually left this tradition in my late thirties, some of my former friends said I needed to try harder or have more faith or pray more. However, it became clear to me that the emporer had no clothes.

In 2018 my wife died and any ideas that "healing and miracles belong to me as a birthright" (a common phrase in that movement) died with her. 

And yet my experiences as a youth told me that I could not discount miracles or the supernatural entirely.

After years of counseling, grief, but also for hurts, habits, and hang-ups; I eventually came to a place where I was mentally sound and emotionally healthy first time in my life. I also learned that ADHD and Autism (AuDHD) were major contributing factors to many of my worst hang-ups. I learned to process in healthy ways and develop real connections with my fellow humans.

Around this same time (2018-2022), I entered Bible School and learned how to study the Bible academically and not just devotionally. I learned to lay down and lay aside theological systems, traditions, church creeds, and all the layers men have added to the text we now call "the Bible". 

I learned to see the Bible as a collection of ancient Jewish Hebrew meditation literature, divided into various sections. The TaNaKh {Torah (instruction - not 'law'); Nevi'im (prophets); Ketuvim (writings) make up the section many Christians call the "Old Testament", a poor misnomer. The Brit Chadashah (New Covenant) is a second collection of Jewish writings, sometimes called the "New Testament", also a bit of a misnomer.

Fun Fact: For many years the majority opinion was that some New Testament authors, like Luke, were Gentiles. I currently find myself in a small but growing minority that believes all New Testament authors, including Luke, were Jewish authors. 

During my time in academic biblical studies, I found scholars to read and listen to on my own. Many of them are linked on my resources pages. A few names worthy of highlighting (more here): 
  • NT (Tom) Wright
  • Michael Heiser
  • Tim Mackie
  • John Walton
  • David deSilva
  • John Sailhammer
  • David Rudolph
  • Paula Fredriksen
  • Mark Nanos
  • Craig Keener
  • Mark Kinzer

Back to the original thought, about getting a shaken worldview...

One day, it became abundantly clear to me that the Bible did not teach anything close to a "rapture". 

Among all the doctrines I had grown to believe over my lifetime this one was core to my identity and my hope for the future. 

The rapture was the one thing we were all looking towards. It was the thing that got us through a tough day at work. "Gee," we told ourselves, "It sucked today, but someday the rapture is coming. Evil will be punished in a Great Tribulation and we're all going to escape this messed up place". 

After much study, I became 100% certain that no such doctrine of a rapture, or of any 7-year Tribulation, could be accurately found on any page or in any sentence in the entire Bible.

This realization led me to a question that shook me to my core:
  • Am I going to be more faithful to my traditions than to understand these texts I claim to base my traditions on? 
Not too long after I answered yes to that question, this website was born. 

I purposefully and consciously chose to lay down every tradition, doctrine, theological system, creed, theory, or church label... 

I have since basically laid aside everything said by any Christian or Jewish Bible reader from about 180AD to the late 1900sAD. 

Everything from Apostles Creeds to "Church Fathers" are set aside so that I can ask this question:
  • What was the biblical author attempting to communicate to that author's ORIGINAL audience, in his/her own original context?
This is not to say that later thinkers and writers did not provide some valuable thinking or processing. 

This IS to say that anything written after the biblical authors wrote is irrelevant to understanding the biblical authors. We need to be reading the texts, in their own historical, cultural, and literary contexts. 

Example: Comparing the ancient writings at Ugarit and the opening of Genesis, we can see clearly that the cultures were in an open dialogue with each other, and attempted to write poetically and allegorically about the human condition. Debates about 7 thousand year old earth are silly and ignorant, based on poor and uneducated reading skills. Yes. I said it. Ken Ham isn't worth reading or hearing. I'm still grumpy about being told I couldn't buy evolution and Jesus (I absolutely can, and have, as have most of the church outside of North America).

We need to look to the best of current scholarship to help us understand what the biblical authors intended to communicate to their own original audience inside their original culture.

ONLY after you properly understood what the biblical author wanted to say that biblical author's audience; can we then begin to ask what wisdom we might find in that meditation for our lives in the 21st Century.

It's one thing to realize that all your traditions were probably wrong, and all your theological systems where a house of cards. That is called "Deconstructing".

While many have gone through that Deconstruction journey, a much smaller subsection of us began the process of Reconstructing our faith in Yahweh, as he revealed his nature in the texts of ancient Jewish writers. 

Many in the deconstruction movement ignore these principles and simply replace one bad way or reading the Bible with a new bad ways of reading the Bible. Many of the claims of Deconstructionists use the same flawed reading skills they learned from Modern Western American Christianity read their new ideals into the texts. This isn't any more helpful than the flawed tradition that birthed them.

What I (and those of my kind) want to do, is to read the texts in their own original contexts, seek to truly understand the biblical authors intended to communicate to their own original audiences, and then build an honest faith in whatever we see of "God" as he is revealed in his interactions with the people who have come before us.

As I've done this, my faith has gone from rocked to rock solid. I have all the room I need to face honest textual difficulties without fear. I have no need to be "certain" of anything. I only need to keep meditating and searching.

The Bible as I was taught to read it growing up, is a boring book.

Having been given an academic brain and tools, I now see the biblical texts are some of the most interesting writing every produced. It just takes a new set of skills to start reading it as the literature it is, and stop reading it for "religion". 

I hope you'll join me for the ride... 

Darrell Wolfe
Shalom (שלום)

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Question & Response 1 (a list of questions)

I received an email with a list of questions from a reader I'll call "G" at

I decided to answer these questions ad-hoc, in the moment, as if we were at a coffee shop talking (as she said in reference to a goal I have for my future). 

I may circle back to these and write about them each in more detail, with research, citations, and footnotes. But for now, here are my gut-level responses to the questions she asked.

Note: my answers will be driven primarily by my understanding of the biblical meta-narratives and themes. Where life experiences come into play, I draw on those as well. While I am not (here in this post) making a particular exegetical argument, I believe these answers to be driven by my lifelong endeavors to understand what the biblical authors intended to communicate to us.

1. What is the meaning of life? 

Servant-hood driven by God-oriented compassion: 

But... Warning: There is a ditch on any side of any extreme. 

What we are looking at here is not codependent selflessness, in which the self disappears in the service of others. 

We are also not looking for a narcissistic service of others to make ourselves feel worthwhile or good.

We are looking for good healthy boundaries around our time and service (put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others). 

We are looking to protect our time, talent, and resources, in order to give them to targeted and spirit-led activities, people, and/or organizations.

We are looking to recognize, first, that God loved us while we were still failures. 

We then allow him to love us as failures, and fill us with that love. 

As we become so totally enraptured with his love for us, we become naturally aware of his love for others. 

As this happens, his love for others becomes our love for others. 

That compassion (within healthy boundaries) drives us to act driven by compassion (not a sense of obligation, religious duty, or a codependent need to fix everyone and everything).

2. Is there such a thing as reincarnation? 

Biblically and textually, reincarnation cannot be supported (at least as commonly understood, read the whole answer). 

If by reincarnation, you mean a cycle of embodied existences in which you have lived past lives here on earth? 


While some claim to have experiences and memories of such experiences, I do not find any biblical textual argument to support such an idea. I think other explanations would fit the data such claims provide.

If by “reincarnation”, you mean more vaguely that you can be disembodied for a time and later embodied, there is a place for that discussion.

Textually, valid arguments can be made for several positions about the afterlife state; and the after-afterlife state. Or as biblical scholar, NT Wright, says, "Life after, life after death."

I don’t find any of the modern paradigms or ways of talking about those states to be helpful or textually supported - as stated by Churchianity today. "Heaven" and "Hell" as discussed and imagined in popular culture are far more medieval ideas than biblical ones. They're not "wrong" but yet they're not "right". 

But that's a much longer discussion for another post.

To be absent from the body (for those in Jesus’ kingdom) is to be present with Jesus. Those who are ‘in Him’ and have died are with Him now, they are not coming back as other humans, or cats, or dogs, etc. 

They are at his side, and we are given glimpses that they are awaiting the New Creation. They may even be busy at work on Kingdom matters, or hosting an art class, or swimming with Jesus. Who knows, but we aren't told nearly as much about that (what scholars call the 'intermediate state') as modern western American evangelical Christianity would have you believe.

I think the Bible is clear that Eden was the seed, and New Creation (New Eden) is the future hope of those who are in the Messiah’s Kingdom. 

New Creation is an embodied existence on this planet. It is not being “destroyed” as modern prophecy teachers claim, it will, however, be “renewed”.

Jesus is the template for our future hope. Just as his body after the resurrection was both similar (continuity) and different (discontinuity), so it will be for our future embodied existence here on this physical (renewed) earth. 

Our bodies, and planets, get an upgrade, but our future remains embodied. 

It is in this sense, that to be re-incarnated, or placed back in a body after being disembodied is biblical and is the very hope of Judaism and (true) Christianity alike. 

We are not waiting for a Messiah who will snatch us away from this earth; rather, we are waiting for a Messiah to come join us on this earth. 

Those who have died will come back for their new bodies, we who are still here when it happens will get our new bodies, we will meet him in the air as a welcome home party to usher him back to earth as King.

3. If God is omnipotent and has a plan for us all, then how and why does He give us free will? 

Short: Because he wanted to. 

Medium: What does being all-powerful (omnipotent) have to do with giving us free will? These are unrelated concepts.

Longer: This is a common misconception I see frequently. One young lady just today, in a Facebook chat, made the argument that “If God is omnipotent (all powerful), and he wants everyone saved, then everyone will be saved.”

This is what we call a non-sequitur (a conclusion that does not naturally follow the premise). 

Premise: God is all-powerful (omnipotent) - The biblical text can support this claim.

Premise: God wants everyone saved - The biblical text can support this claim.

Non-Sequitur Conclusion:  God will save everyone and nobody won’t be saved - Unclear and unlikely, a conclusion that has no basis in the two premises. And is not well-supported by textual evidence.

Some questions to consider:

  • What character does this God possess? 
  • How has he chosen to use this all-powerful-power? 

Despite the fact people try to use the Bible as a theology book to find quick answers from sentences stolen from pages forced into awkward claims, that is not the book we have. 

The Bible is, ultimately a grand meta-narrative which also includes codes, legislations, poetry, stories, and other genres of writing. 

We are left with a story. That story is about a God who chooses to create humans and give them choices; and then God’s response to those choices.

This all-powerful God decided to partner with humans, and that involved giving them choices and honoring those choices (even unto death).

Even in the few textual cases where it might seem to an unskilled reader that God overrides choice, as with Pharaoh and Moses, a closer reading of the text shows that he never over-rode Pharaoh, he only sealed and locked Pharaoh’s choices.

Since the textual evidence of the meta-narrative is overwhelmingly indicative of a God who chose to have free-will partners, then whatever else we can say this indicates or does not indicate about his character, it must indicate that this is what he wants to do with his all-powerful-power. He wants to partner with free-will beings.

Now, an examination of his character would be another matter altogether. But it seems clear he will not force us to comply with his will, even if that means some form of eternal separation from him. 

  1. Whether that separation is like a room with an open door through which we will forever be allowed to free walk out and return to him (aka universal salvation in scholar speak).
  2. Whether that separation results in permanent and ongoing "punishment" for the pain we've caused others (aka hell, or eternal conscious torment) or a temporary state of punishment until all the bad is purged (aka purgatory).
  3. Whether that separation results in our forfeiting the right to exist at all, and those who reject his offer to joining the kingdom simply stop existing (aka annihilationism). 
  4. Whether some other arrangement not cited here exists, because we simply aren't told as much as we would wish we were, and we don't know as much as we pretend to know (aka my current stance).
All up for debate. Good humans with strong scholarly stances and textual support take all of these positions. 

What seems to me to be the fundamental fact of the biblical meta-narrative, is that regardless of the final outcome for those who reject Him, he does above all else want free-will human beings to join him in his plans to enjoy and over-see creation.

He's all-powerful (omnipotent) and that's what he wants most to do with that power: Share it with others.

4. How do I get closer to God?  I’ve tried reading the Bible but it’s difficult because of the ancient way it was written. 

(1) The fact we have here an acknowledgment that the Bible is ancient is a great start! Many modern readers make the error of reading the English translations as “literal” as possible and typically miss most of the point of the text in doing so.

The Bible is a text written primarily (possibly exclusively) by Jewish authors in the Ancient Near East (ANE) and in Second Temple Period Judaism. Both the Tanakh (aka Hebrew Bible, Old Testament) and the Second Writings (aka B'rit Chadashah, New Covenant, New Testament) were likely written by exclusively Jewish authors. For example, many claim that Luke was a Gentile, but strong textual evidence can be brought to bear to demonstrate he was likely also a Jewish author. 

In order to read an ancient text, written thousands of years ago in three (or more) foreign languages in another world, time, culture, and place, we must do the work to understand. 

Luckily, we have so many amazing tools to do so. 

For beginners, I like to recommend starting with a Bible Project video about the book you are going to read. Stick with the four gospels, and use the Bible Project videos and podcasts that accompany those videos. That will help you acclimate to the story around which history has revolved. Then branch out as you grow comfortable. See also the "How to read the Bible" series. 

(2) God (in three persons), known as (1) Yahweh (God, Father, Daddy), (2) Yeshua (Yehoshua, Joshua, Iesus, Jesus), and (3) Holy Spirit (HaRuach HaKodesh) are personal beings not abstract concepts. Together, they operate as a single operational unit called “God” in English. Get to know them, not just about them.

Maybe start with, “Jesus, I want to you to know, I’m ready to know you”. Listen. Take a walk in the woods, or a drive around the lake, or pace the gym… talk to him, he’s listening. Learn to listen and expect to “hear” in nontraditional ways. Like, that flower just grabs your attention, stop, look at it. Solomon the wise said “Ponder the anthill…” so you can ponder a flower. Let him speak to you in that. Sometimes you’ll see words, pictures, ideas, and stories… let all that flow. Engage your heart as well as your mind.

(3) Journal. Write down what you talk to God about, and what you think you hear back. Don’t worry about “getting it right”. No relationship was built in perfection, and this one won’t be either on your side. Parents love when their kids bring them scribbles, scribble for Jesus.

(4) Sing. Find songs that bypass your head and go to your heart. While I find some of Bethel’s teaching questionable, I also find MOST modern western American evangelical teachings questionable. I know of zero denominations that have all the right answers. I do enjoy Bethel’s worship style. They know how to find Daddy-God’s heart, even if their head is a little wonky sometimes. Find something that speaks to your heart, have it playing on repeat. 

(5) Community. While we stand before God and God alone in judgment, we will stand before him about community. How did we love (or not love) our fellow human beings? We were build for community. In the earliest church, a whole family could be baptized because they weren’t making a “personal declaration” they were making a family commitment. Baptism was intended to be a corporate acknowledgment that the individual was joining the family of God’s people, and the family was accepting this person(s). When you decided to follow Jesus in the first century, you were joining a community of his family. Find your wing of that community. 

It doesn’t have to be in a “church” building if you prefer not to do so. 

It can be if that speaks to you. 

These days, my community is a rag-tag group of people I meet with irregularly. However, as my schedule is normalizing, I plan to find a more regular rhythm again.

No matter the shape or form, find people who love Jesus and go do life together. Whatever that looks like for you.

5.a I’ve lost many loved ones in the past. 

While it is a normal part of the human experience, losing someone always hurts. I am sorry for your loss, and I want you to know that the pain is a sign that you invested in them, it’s a sign that love happened.

Acknowledge the loss. Allow it to hurt. Don’t push that away. 

Get a counselor (licensed preferably) who has certification or specialization in grief work.

5.b How do you personally deal with the loss of a loved one?  


Whether I experience a major tragedy or a minor one, I have learned to immediately become present in the moment, and lean-in to the feelings, emotions, thoughts, and realities of that loss. The more present I am (not distracting the pain away but owning it and letting it process in, through, and out of me), the more I can integrate that emotion into the larger framework of my life. 

We all live on a continuum, moments fly by. Our brains and bodies process those moments, deciding what to keep and what to discard. It’s almost impossible that you remember every turn, every stop sign, every speck of trash on the side of the road, for every drive you’ve taken to or from work, school, church, etc. Your brain was designed to see, evaluate, and let go of unimportant moments.

Some of my childhood friends remember conversations I do not remember, their brain processed those moments as meaningful in some way, mine did not. 

In a trauma event, everything comes in and nothing can be processed. It all comes in too fast. So everything is stored. But then we never (usually) go back and process the trauma, so it sits in the queue. 

This leads to a feeling or sense that we are stuck, somehow. Unable to function at our highest level.

Timeline Integration Therapy (aka Lifespan Integration© (LI)) helped me work through my trauma events and integrate those moments into the timeline again. It essentially amounts to rehearsing the event with someone who is skilled at guided remembering, and allowing your brain, body, and emotions to process the event and place it back into the ongoing continuum of your life. It happened, but it is not happening now. The effects are present, but the event has passed. 

You have reached true integration when you can be simultaneously joyful and mournful about the same person, or even events, at the same time. 

Which leads me to the next question…

5.c Does the pain ever go away?  


But it changes. 

It moves, morphs, evolves. The bitterness can become bittersweet. I don’t think about her as often, or as long when I do. I can look at her things without breaking down. I can see her photo on the wall and talk to her about the kids, laugh, cry, be angry she’s not here to see and be, and yet grateful for the wisdom and seed she sowed into us while she was here.

It can get less intense, and more like a dull backdrop. And having that sense of intense loss, makes leaning-in to the joyful moments more intense too. It means understanding that time isn’t guaranteed and to make moments count. 

You’re still going to be too tired to go out sometimes. You’re still going to be too overwhelmed to notice a sunset sometimes. 

But sometimes, you will.

5.d What are some good coping mechanisms?  

#1  - By a country mile - Get a counselor (licensed preferably) who has certification or specialization in grief work.

#2 - Let it be okay to be not okay. Allow yourself a sick day, or a cry day, or a watch old home videos and ugly cry day. It’s okay to be not okay.

#3 - Get Connected. Don’t allow yourself permanent isolation. It’s okay to be not okay, and it’s okay to isolate from time to time, for a day, a few days. But community and connection are the single most important part of any recovery and healthy lifestyle. Make sure these are healthy connections, as defined by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend:

“A safe relationship is one that does three things:

Draws us closer to God. (Matthew 22:37-38)

Draws us closer to others. (Matthew 22:39)

Helps us become the real person God created us to be. (Ephesians 2:10)

[ Townsend, John, and Henry Cloud. “What Are Safe People? | Cloud Townsend Resources.” Accessed February 12, 2023. ; Cloud, Henry. “The Power of Healthy Connections in Your Life,” December 12, 2018.]”

#4 - Invest in yourself. Start a hobby that you once loved but let go of, or start a brand new one. Start a new degree you kept putting off (I went back and finished by BA in my late thirties, forties). Join a paint-n-sip night. Take dancing lessons. Whatever sparks joy in your heart again.

#5 - Move your body. Take walks. Get into a gym or Thai Chi, or Yoga, or Archery class. Find a hiking group. Start swimming. Anything that moves the body.

6. Why do good things happen to bad people?  

The long answer is a worth a few books on it’s own 

(To start, check out “Where is God when it hurts? By Philip Yancey).[ Yancey, Philip. Where Is God When It Hurts? Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1997.]

Short answer, because we’re alive, we exist, and we are not robots. 

For whatever reason, the creator of existence likes to partner with others and share his rule and authority over creation. 

He created spirit beings (elohim, sometimes called angels) to rule with him in the spirit realm, and he created human beings (literally dirt creatures in Hebrew / Adam-human/Adamah-dirt) to rule with him over creation. 

Both realms rebelled and both realms require healing and restoration.

In order to partner with entities that are not him, he gave them his capacity for self directed governance. 

Which means we have true free-will (despite what some clinging to medieval theologians try to teach). 

We have the capacity to create unimaginable joy and unthinkable pain. 

We often use this power to dominate and control each other (hence the repeating themes in the Bible about corrupt empires and kings, Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, eventually Rome, and even Jerusalem itself under many of its kings).

Jesus came to show us the upside down kingdom. A kingdom where its leaders live to serve, not be served. And where dying gives us life. And where the key to victory, is to die (sometimes metaphorically, and sometimes literally).

Injustice is a common theme in the biblical stories, and God works through humans to correct other humans. 

Natural disasters could be linked to this trend; or, they could be seen as part of the seed but not yet full-grown nature of creation.

The whole of creation groans to see New Creation (a renewed existence for planet earth and its inhabitants). 

Until then, we can only ask God how he will partner with us to create pockets of Eden in our world, and bring healing to a hurting world, light to a dark world, and blessing despite the curse.

There really is no good answer to “why”. 

It rains on the just and unjust. The answer becomes, “what” can we do despite this reality? We can sow light into the darkness. We can find ways to create Tov (good) in places of Ra (bad).

God never promises an answer to “why”, not even to suffering Job. But he does promise that he’ll walk through the darkness with us (Psalm 23). We may not even find rest on this side, but the promise of Eden stands in front of us, at the coming global Resurrection. 

7. Do animals have souls? 

This requires a MUCH longer explanation. For a starter and primer to this topic, see the BibleProject video and podcast on this word “Soul”.

[ Mackie, Tim, and Jon Collins. “BibleProjectTM Videos and Podcasts.” Word Study Discussions. Accessed October 2, 2022. 



The shorter answer, maybe. 

But do you even have one of these “souls”? 

I don’t think the biblical writers thought in exactly the same terms that moderns use for such things. 

Genesis 2:7 says that the human became a living “creature”. This word translated as “creature” in the LEB is Nephesh, which is often translated as “soul”. It literally means throat (the thing you breath through and eat through). In modern terms, if I say there are 20-head of cattle, I don’t mean there are twenty bodiless cow heads, I mean there are twenty cows. So in Hebrew, a person is a throat. It is a way of identifying the whole by use of the part.

All animate earth beings (cows, deer, and humans) are Nephesh (beings of dirt animated by God’s breath). It does not carry the connotation of “soul” that we use to refer to a disembodied part of the human. 

So yes, all animals and humans are Nephesh (souls), if by that we mean bodies animated by God’s breath. 

 There is actually much less distinction between animals and humans in the biblical narratives than modern theologians are comfortable admitting (probably because it would put a crimp in their pet theological stances). 

Humans are put over the earth and its creatures as Kings and Queens. That is what it means to “image God” or “be made in his image”. It is a job title. We are to tend and steward and be good caretakers of creation (and we screwed that up royally).

So, when New Creation finally arrives, is it possible my long-dead dog from when I was a child will be there waiting for me. I don’t think we can make a textual argument for or against it, firmly. But I don’t see anything in the biblical narrative that would prevent that from being true. God is very pro-creation and I could absolutely see that possibility.

8.  Am I being punished for all the bad things I’ve done earlier in life? 


From a biblical perspective, this is not a possible truth.

The biblical narrative precludes this as a possibility. Despite any impression, or even outright memories you may think you have about a former life, the biblical authors do not leave room for this possibility. 

We live one time. After that, we stand before God for what we did in this life (good and bad), not as some arbitrary judgment of arbitrary rules (as many in modern western Christianity would have you believe). 

Rather, we stand before him to account for good and bad seed we’ve sown, the way we treated our fellow humans, and whether we responded to his Son’s invitation to join his Kingdom in New Creation.

It will always be about that invitation, and not our 'earning' of anything.  

You can suffer the natural consequences of prior generations (my grandfather was an alcoholic, his abuse led to my father’s issues, which led to mine). And we can stop the chain and start a new chain with us (my kids benefited from my getting help and counseling). 

But you did not live a life before this one, nor are you suffering for such a life.

9. Do you think the end is near? 

Meh. Not worried about it. Maybe, maybe not. 

I see no good reading of the Bible in its own original contexts that allows for any kind of “end times schedule of events”. The ideas about a rapture, 7-year tribulation, and maybe even a battle with the Antichrist (I’m still weighing that one out myself) are far more pop-culture theology than good Bible reading. "Left Behind" made great novels but terrible Bible reading.

Every generation has had its battle with evil human-made empires resisting the upside-down kingdom. 

Every generation has had the opportunity to see persecution for following the upside-down kingdom. 

Every generation has had the opportunity to lay down its life (figuratively or literally) for Jesus. 

Two things are primarily in view for the biblical authors: 

(1) The invitation to join God’s kingdom reaches every human on earth.

(2) Israel, nationally and publicly, acknowledges Jesus as Messiah. 

Until those two things happen, no. We’re not there yet. 

10. If so, what can I do to prepare? 

The same thing we’ve done since day one of the upside-down kingdom, while Jesus still walked the earth, and shortly after he left his first followers with the Holy Spirit. 

Gather in communities of people who are in the kingdom.

Study the texts he left us through his chosen (ancient) authors.

Pray, praise, sing, and eat together frequently.

Serve, serve, serve, serve… 

Let Rome (whatever Rome/Babylon looks like in our day) be so taken by our tendency to be of service to our local communities that they even when they don’t like us, they find us useful. 

And if persecution comes, so be it. Sing while locked up in jail. Celebrate when it ends and we're reunited with our community. 

And if death comes, look forward to being with Him and coming back with him someday.

11. Are you a believer of fate, destiny, or synchronicity?

Not as they are usually defined. 

God has an over-arching plan for this earth-humanity experience. It starts as a seed in Eden, and it ends with New Eden, New Creation. Our ultimate hope is for a reembodied experience on this renewed Earth. We will be snow skiing and cliff diving and painting, and doing plays and storytelling for many millions of year to come when New Creation arrives. It will be similar and different. Better. Painless. Tearless. But embodied. 

He also knows us intimately, every hair on our heads. He cares deeply about us. 

He also invites us into the upside-down kingdom, to live like Jesus, which means self-sacrifice. The miracles and healings come at the cost of going without and being misunderstood.

Was I always going to marry Flavia and become a widower? I don’t know.

I think he gives us seed (time, talents, treasures) and opportunities to sow that seed. What we choose to do with that seed is up to us. As we sow, if we do it well, it reaps rewards and compounds. 

If we waste the seed today, tomorrow he’ll give us a new batch of seed and new opportunities. 

I don’t think we have a “destiny” to fulfill, I think we have opportunities to be useful, be of service, and to sow our time, talent, and treasures (motivated by love, not out of obligation).

He gives us new chances until finally, we reach a day where we have no more chances. 

For reasons I will never understand on this side of New Creation, Flavia A. Miller Wolfe ran out of those opportunities on June 25, 2018. Yet, I have had more since. Even though she was far more deserving than I.

I blew many of them. 

I chose wrongly many times. 

But I’ve made more good choices than bad, cumulatively since she left. Especially the last few years. By his grace, I did better with my second chance life.

The thrust or direction of my life has produced more good fruit, in part, because the pain of her loss drove me to make my survival meaningful.

Originally, it was a codependent need to live up to her legacy. After two great counselors and a lot of support, and a lot of errors, I eventually healed from that motivation.

Now I live because my God has graced me with gifts and talents, and I love him, and I want to make use of them. I do things like respond to this email because his love for me causes me to share that love with others.

Was I always supposed to start this particular website; or, was it the result of the choices (good and bad) made by myself and others, and the fruit of many countless seeds sown? 

I cannot ignore that there have been patterns, trends, and a general thrust toward a similar direction in every season of my life. But I see that as a function of the gifts and talents and opportunities. Not as a specific destiny. 

Selah (prayerfully ponder and meditate on these things)

Darrell Wolfe, Storyteller at NoHiding.Faith

Finding my voice - somewhere in the range of Storyteller and Scholar

 The start of a new season… 

After spending a decade blogging loosely about anything and everything on my personal blog (, and now several years doing academic writing in biblical studies, and graduating with my BA in biblical studies in December 2022; it is now time for me to find my voice for the next season. 

Things I know… 

  • I know my style is typically non-formal. However, biblical studies has taught me to be more formal than I had been, and this had the benefit of better researched, more thoughtful theological positions.
  • I also recognize that the stuffy formality of academic writing isn’t my authentic self for the purposes of the NoHiding.Faith brand. However, the loose blogging of disjointed thoughts about anything and everything also isn’t “on brand” for this site. 
  • NoHiding exists to make biblical studies and faith-walk topics, academic content, solid thinking, and honest evaluation free from religious systems or denominational positions accessible to the every-day reader and non-academic. 
  • I am primarily for the unchurched, dechurched, disenchanted, disenfranchised, and disillusioned who want to know God, Jesus, and build community with others free of the trappings of “religion”. These are my people. 

So it’s time for me to find the balance between footnotes and colloquialisms. 

The post to come after this is one of many such attempts to find my new voice.

Darrell Wolfe, Storyteller at NoHiding.Faith

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Do what makes you happy?

En error while correcting an error, so it seems. 

While self-focused pleasure is not of Yahweh, neither is an over focus on duty and drudgery.

What "Glorifies God" is a genuine interest in freely loving God and one's fellow humans created in His image. 

The sense of this post is an error to the other side of the road. A ditch on either side.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Evil, and Knowledge of Good, are the same tree for a reason. One can never overcome the Knowledge of Evil by working a better Knowledge of Good. They both lead to death. 

We must strive to do one thing, only one, enter His Rest. 

His rest comes by acknowledging His love for us, returning his love, and through it loving others. 

This is our ONLY task. Selah.

PS- Sometimes, more often than we'd like, that love will call us to lay our life, will, wishes, desires, and wants down for others. But if it is love and compassion motivating that decision, while it may be intense, difficult,or even painful, it isn't duty, work, or drudgery... Not if it is of Love Himself. See Steven of Acts for an example of how it works.


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